Skip to the content

Our Best Guide for Commercial Flock Productivity

Commercial producers are seeing the benefits of looking deeper into an animal’s background before purchase and utilising data to make informed decisions rather than buying on looks alone. Many buyers are seeking high index terminal sires to improve their farm’s profitability; improving carcase conformation, reducing days to slaughter and increasing the value of the lambs sold. Their investment in high-performance genetics is rewarded through an increase in flock productivity, which, in today’s ever-changing world, has never been more important.

The commercial value of breeding traits will vary from farm-to-farm. But, by selecting individuals with the right combination of EBVs, farmers can identify the most profitable rams for their business.

Ways to increase outputs in commercial lamb enterprises, include:


Breeding Values needed in the sire

Increase growth rates and reducing days to slaughter

High Scan Weight EBVs

Increase carcase weights

High Scan Weight and Muscle Depth EBVs

Enhances carcase conformation

High Muscle Depth and Gigot Muscularity EBVs

Optimum fat classification

Assess Fat Depth EBV of rams to reduce or increase fatness of progeny


All of these factors will increase profit, with an investment in superior genetics worth an additional £4/lamb and equating to an extra £1000 over the ram’s lifetime.

This commercial value has been demonstrated in the RamCompare project, where data collected on commercial farms has been analysed and shown producers how the selection of high genetic merit sires can improve the value of their progeny.

At Dupath Farm in Cornwall, top ranked sires for carcase merit generated an additional £4.29/lamb. The leading sire was a Meatlinc ram that came from a flock who regularly use CT data as part of their breeding programme. This highlight that the purchase of high index rams from flocks using CT scanning can lift lamb carcase weights and conformation. Additionally, high-ranking sires for days to slaughter produced lambs that finished eight days quicker.

This example has been consistently replicated across RamCompare farms.

Protecting that investment

While the benefits of using a high index ram are recognised, we should not forget the importance of ram longevity in ensuring that investment realised.

This table shows that the cost of an average commercial ram per lamb sold will vary greatly depending on the number of lambs he leaves over his lifetime.

 Ram costs per lamb assuming a ram costs £550 in a flock selling 1.5 lambs per ewe.


Number of ewes per ram


























Ram longevity is key to ensuring that farms maximise the return from their investment. Careful management of a ram’s nutritional requirements and implementation of an active flock health plan will help to ensure rams have a long productive working lifespan.

For further information, see our Fit For Purpose Rams manual available here.

About the author

Laura Eyles

Laura Eyles

Laura has joined the Signet team as a breeding specialist, she comes from an agricultural background having grown up on a sheep farm in Cornwall, where they keep commercial ewes and run a small flock of pedigree Charollais sheep.

Laura has a strong interest in animal breeding and genetics having studied Animal Science (BSc Hons) at Harper Adams University. During her time at Harper, she spent an industrial placement in Cumbria working for a sheep breeding company and some of our clients may recognise her from this role. Since graduating she has worked for a large cattle breeding company before joining us at Signet to lead on a number of Signet’s sheep breeding projects.